It is quite a saga and to be fair pretty exciting however exasperating at how little we still know about the prospect given how official channels are very tight lipped about the whole project. The main takeaways in addition to earlier snippets: Free At Last – Extended Edition will be released in November on 2 LPs.
Top of the marlbank wish list for 13 months in terms of records we want to get hold of is now the slightly more imminent reissue than it was then of the Mal Waldron album Free At Last, which is still impossible to find in the physical LP format. Even on CD you would need to be a super sleuth journeying deep to ring the doorbell of some eccentric shop in somewhere like Penge or Potter’s Bar to have a hope of finding one because it was the first album ECM put out almost 50 years ago and yep that starts everyone on a sentimental journey even if they were only ankle biters at the time or remarkably given the power of all our imaginations among the unborn.
The record itself was released not in 1969, however. It was recorded in late-November of that year and so label history begins with the recording session and then ECM itself began in terms of its public release on 1 January 1970 and that started the whole Edition of Contemporary Music story rolling.
We all have known for a while that extra tracks will be made available on the reissue. Thankfully unlike a lot of reissues this is actually an important record historically even though it is so atypical in many ways in terms of the vast majority of the ECM output certainly varied and highly eclectic in recent years. It may very well not have seemed at all like that at the time.
Waldron in his note on the original LP wrote: “As you can see and hear this album marks for me a different approach to my music. It represents my meeting with free jazz. Free jazz for me does not mean complete anarchy or disorganised sound. In my vocabulary disorganised sound still means noise. And don’t forget that the definition of music is organised sound.”
Familiarise yourself with Impressions ten years before Free At Last if you have some quality listening time available. No wonder ECM wanted Waldron on the brand new label. Waldron (piano) here with Addison Farmer (bass) and Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath (drums) recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder studio in Hackensack, New Jersey on 20 March 1959.